Ends and Beginnings

Each end leads to a new beginning which itself contains the seeds of another end. The continuum of life is riddled with ends and beginnings. Depending on where our paths cross or our sensibilities are shaken or some momentous event pulls us out of our usual lethargy, a beginning or an end or anywhere in between could define our view of the world; this could define his attitude towards the many tomorrows to come.

Imagine, 2021 has made history. He did it with a whimper, like his ‘COVIDised’ predecessor, 2020. The all-new year 2022 comes with the clenched fists of a newborn baby, offering untold possibilities. The temptation to say “Que sera sera” is overwhelming, but intellectual indolence has no better personification than a person who, hiding under the babanriga of a badly digested theology, refuses to use the lessons of the past. to inform the future.

Given where we came from, where we are and which direction we seem to be heading in, what is 2022 likely to bring from its warehouse? Will Senate approval of President Buhari’s request for an additional $ 6.2 billion foreign loan improve people’s lives or would borrowing metaphorically be another train ride to Maradi?

The government led by Obasanjo had lifted Nigeria out of the stagnant debt mud when in October 2005 Nigeria and the Paris Club announced a final agreement for debt relief worth $ 18 billion and an overall reduction in Nigeria’s outstanding debt of $ 30 billion. The deal was made on April 21, 2006, when Nigeria made its final payment and its books were cleared of all Paris Club debt.

Then a combination of economic factors, including declining oil revenues and our unwillingness to shake off the infamous habit of living beyond our means, caused us to start borrowing again. In 2014, our external debt stood at 11 trillion naira. In five years, it has reached 27 trillion naira and is expected to exceed 37 trillion naira ($ 94 billion) with the recently approved $ 6.2 billion.

The crucial question to ask is: are we investing borrowed funds in a way that makes Nigeria one of the 10 largest economies in the world, or are we worsening our status as one of the world capitals of poverty?

An economist, Kingsley Moghalu, a former vice-governor of the Central Bank and a former presidential candidate, believes so.

“Nigeria’s borrowing is not sustainable,” he said. “Forget the absurdity that the debt-to-GDP ratio stays within 35%, reaching 42% by 2026. What matters to a developing country is the ability to pay relative to income and the cost of servicing the debt in relation to investment in development. . “

Moghalu further explains, “At 90 kobo of every Naira we earn in debt repayment, there is nothing left to invest in education and health care (human capital), the building blocks of any society. Supposedly borrowing to build infrastructure that cannot generate income to repay debt is a mistake… According to @IMFNews, our income-to-GDP ratio will drop from 7.2% in 2021 to 6.5% in 2026, and the government expenditure / GDP ratio The GDP ratio will drop from 13.3% in 2021 to 12.6% per cent in 2026. As a result, incomes fall, the ability to spend on essential services decreases. Nigeria needs an economic salvation!

The issue of investing in profitable projects has been at the forefront of public discourse in 2021. Take investments in rail transport, for example. If the investments were meant to be sustainable, why are the most economically viable roads not a priority? What is our business using borrowed funds to extend a railway line to Maradi in the Republic of Niger when we have not covered our own trading towns?

Over the past five years, the government has spent more than it earned, inflating its spending from 3.9 trillion naira in 2016 to 10 trillion naira last year. When you consider that the income for the same period only increased from 3.1 trillion naira to 4000 billion naira, you can see that the country is living well beyond its means. The budget deficit during the period fell from N400 billion to N5 trillion. The World Bank has suggested ways to increase non-oil revenues by N10 trillion over the next three years through a higher tax regime, with VAT expected to bring in an additional N1.1 billion.

These taxes are already negatively affecting the lower classes of the population. Unfortunately for the government, these taxes come at a time of unprecedented insecurity when there are so many hardships in the country. Additionally, small businesses that have managed to stay open after the Covid blizzard may have to close in the face of a higher tax regime. Going forward, the government must weigh its desire to collect more tax money against its often stated desire to keep people in employment.

2022 will be a very important year in the history of Nigeria as it will be the eve of another democratic transition. Already, would-be gladiators are perfecting their strategy as their puppeteers oil the social engine in anticipation of the inevitable mess. If we trust our past as the “infrastructure of the stomach,” much of the money – looted or legitimate – will be in circulation. At the same time, some officials plagued by the fever of “time of injury” may embark on the shark’s equivalent of a binge eating. Haven’t we heard of looted funds being re-looted?

Regardless, this is President Buhari’s last full year in office. A new helmsman is expected to be sworn in on May 29, 2023. What the president does or neglects to do over the next 12 months will put the final seal on his legacy. What Nigeria as a country does or refuses to do as we near the end of one administration and eagerly await the start of another will determine the fate of the country and its 200 million people.

Speaking of what is hidden within the core of Father Time, I take note from reporters of the Ghanaian government’s threat to arrest soothsayers, prophets, para-psychologists and other New Year’s prediction merchants if they dare to predict the end of the unborn year. Kill bad news before it spreads more, especially in a whole new year. Thank goodness I don’t live in Ghana.

What about Nigeria? On a lighter note, with my mind, I can see my friend, Professor Moyo Okediji, who teaches art history at the University of Texas, sitting contentedly next to his latest painting, IWA (Character ). A great talent of Ife without a reputation, Moyo recently gained a reputation as a psychic on Facebook.

“In the year 2022, may Àseju not tarnish our ÃŒwà (Iwa is Yoruba for character and is considered Olodumare’s favorite wife, while Aseju, which means Excess or Superfluity, is the only rejected woman. by Olodumare). May 2022 be abo (female) and not ako (male). 2022 will bring us all kinds of great opportunities. We should accept them. But we must reject Àsejù.

Now, before you casually dismiss this, remember that Moyo holds a record in oracular prognosis. In 2019, he predicted a victory for Buhari in the election but warned:

Times will be harder

The sea will be rougher

The clouds will be thicker

The fog will be more hazy

The days will be darker

The nights will be longer

The market will be slower

The valleys will be deeper

The hills will be steeper

Rivers will be drier

The winds will be colder

The sun will be hotter

The moon will be duller

The weather will be harsher

The journey will be harder

The struggles will be harder

The rich will be richer

The poor, the poorer

The pain, the agony, will be worse for the meek and the meek.

The sick, even sicker

The sad, sadder

The fool will be even crazier

The hungry, the hungrier.

Now that he says 2022 will present great opportunities in this era that marks the end of a particular start, I’m going to sip a calabash of palm wine in anticipation. I wish all of us a lot of elbow grease and some extraordinary common sense. Good year!

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